« PreviousContinue »
the true, and full meaning or sense of any scripture, (which is not manifold, and contradictory, but one, and harmonious,) it may be searched, and known by other places that speak more plainly; the whole council of God concerning all things necessary for his own glory (as far as relates to man), man's salvation, faith, and life, being expressly set down in scripture, or by good, and necessary consequence, (supported by example and explanation) may be deduced from scripture; unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit
, reasonings, explanations, or the traditions of men. The things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed for a life of faith, and for salvation, are so clearly propounded, and opened in scripture, that not only the learned but the unlearned, in the due use of the ordinary means, consisting in the natural faculties of the mind, and the word of God, (which is of a supernatural, and divine character, established by God for that purpose) may attain unto a sufficient un. derstanding of them; and that the word of God (which is committed wholly unto writing) dwelling plentifully in all those who, by the due exercise of their faculties receive it, not as the word of man, but as it is in truth the word of God, may worship him in an acceptable manner, and through patience, and comfort of the scriptures may have hope. Influenced by these sentiments I will go on with farther illustrations, and proofs of what I have so often stated touching the means of spiritual knowledge, and faith, as opposed to the opinions of our day, and those which in a great degree have existed for a long time. When the kindred of the high priest had set Peter, and John in the midst of them, and asked them by what authority they had done the miracle? “Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said, it we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he was made whole; be it known unto you, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified; whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this mattistând here before you whole, &c. This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other; for there
is none other namie under heaven given among men where by we must be saved.” How consistent with intelligible, and rational principles is the faith of the Gospel here produced? No secret, mystic operation; but divine, and supernatural instruction, addressed to the mind by external communications, and manifestations through the senses, thus establishing the truth of the divinity of Jesus Christ, of his absolute sovereignty, and the supreme authority of his government; and of the grace of God through him to the Jews, --God having raised up his Son Jesus Christ, sent him to bless the Jews, in turning away every one from his iniquities. How were they turned? By repentance. How was repentance obtained? By Jesus Christ being exalted by the right hand of God to give it, or grant it; which was effected by his death, and what they saw,and heard. The evidences of the resurrection, and the character which Christ sustained in the mediatorial government, were exhibited to our world in consequence of his exaltation, and by this they were enabled to believe and repent. That the power of repentance was conferred upon those who were convinced of sin, &c. by the death of Chist, and its meritorious relation to God's government, and the evidence, consisting in signs, and wonders, and words explanatory of them, is manifest from the Apostles commanding them to repent, under the evidence exhibited, that Christ was the Son of God, and Saviour.
In the 4th chapter of the Acts we find that the rulers, the elders, and the scribes, were offended that the resurrection from the dead should be preached through Jesus; but uvere puzzled to know what to do; for, said they, that a notable miracle hath been done by the Apostles is manifest to all them that dwell in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it; and they also marvelled when they saw the boldness of Peter, and John; perceiving that they were unlearned and ignorant men. They called them, however, and commanded them that they should not speak at all, nor teach in the name of Jesus: to which the Apostles replied, whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye; for we cannot but speak of the things which we have seen and heard Reader, recollect the Apostles were to bear witness of what they had seen, and heard, and
worked miracles in confirmation of their truth. They were threatened, and let go by the Jews; for they were afraid of the people; for all men glorified God for that which was done; for the man was above forty years old on whom this miracle of healing was shewed. This miracle was wrought in obedience to Christ's promise before he ascended:
band they who believe on me shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.” The disciples assembled themselves together after those threats; and they prayed to God, that he would grant unto them that with all boldness, they might speak his word, by stretching forth his hand to heal; and that signs, and wonders might be done by the name of the holy child Jesus. And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together, and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness. This was agreeable to Christ's command, and promise before he left them. The first prayer he taught them, did not consist in a petition to the Father in the name of Jesus Christ; perhaps the reason was that he had not at that time sufficiently developed his real character, or actually died. Towards the close of his ministry he said unto his disciples; hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name, ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full-at that day when I shall shew you plainly of the Father, ye shall ask in my name, and I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you. It was in reference to the same gifts that Christ said, that his Father would give the Spirit unto them that ask him; the disciples, being filled with the Holy Ghost, agrecable to the repuest of their prayer, was a literal sulfilment of the promise. The house shaking, and the Apostles being filled with the Holy Ghost, were also agreeable to the promises of Christ in several other instances, “I say unto you, that if two of you shall agree on earth, as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Faáher which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in 'the midst of them to bless them. (Mathew 18. 19. 20.) He also told Peter, as I before observed, that he gave unto him the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatsoever, said he, Thou shalt bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven, and
whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Math. 16. 19. Correspondent with this, Peter was the first to preach to the Jews on the day of Pentecost; and also to the Gentiles; to Cornelius, and his friends several years after. It was by him that the miracle was performed on the lame man; and Ananias, and Sapphira were struck dead (5th chapter of the Acts) by lying unto God; in consequence of which great fear came upon all the church; and upon as many as heard these thingsmand, saith the historian, "by the hands of the Apostles were many signs, and wonders wrought among the people, by which believers were the more added unto the Lord, multitudes both of men, and
So numerous were the miracles performed, that they brought forth the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds, and couches, that at the least the shadow of Peter, passing by, might overshadow some of them; sick folks, and them which were vexed with unclean spirits were brought out of the cities about Jerusalem, and they were healed every one of them. After this the high priest put them into prison, but an angel opened it in the night, and directed them to go into the temple, and speak all the words of this life. The high priest had them brought before him, saying, did we not command you, that ye should not teach in this name; and behold you have filled Jerusalem with his doctrines, and intend to bring this man's blood upon us.
Then Peter, and the other Apostles answered, and said, we ought to obey God rather than man. The God of our Fathers raised up Jesus whom ye slew, and hanged on a tree; him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince, and a Saviour for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins; and we are his witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him.
The faith which was produced by the operations of the Spirit in every instance detailed, and the words of the Holy · Ghost speaking through the Apostles, were of the operation of God; and the belief of the record, (which gives an account of these operations, and the word of the Spirit by which they were explained, and applied to Jesus Christ in reveal
ing his character, &c. is the faith of tire operation of God al
I now proceed to the case of Paul.–Saul had been a very bloody persecutor of the christians. As he went towards Damascus, suddenly there shone round about him a light from heaven, and he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul why persecutest thou me? and he said who art thou Lord? And the Lord said I am Jesus, whom thou persecutest; and he trembling, and astonished said, Lord what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do. And the men which journied with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man. Ananias, a disciple, who was at Damascus, the Lord said unto in a vision, arise, and go to Saul of Tarsus; for behold he prayeth, and hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him that he might receive his sight; and Ananias with great hesitation, through fear of Saul, on account of his former character, went his way, and entered into the house, and putting his hands on him, said, Brother Saul, the Lord (even Jesus that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest) hath sent me that thou mightest receive thy sight and be filled with the Holy Ghost; and immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales, and he received sight forthwith; and arose, and was baptized. And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues that he is the Son of God at which all Paul's former acquaintances were amazed; but Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is the very Christ. Let any person of common sense, and candour examine this instance of conversion, and say whether the miraculous appearance, and the words explanatory, did not convince Saul that Jesus Christ is the son of God; and whether the bestowment of the Spirit was not subsequent, and imparted by the laying on of Ananias's hands? None of 11.e operations of our day, form any part of this distinguished conversion: Paul is convinced of sin, by the miraculous things which he saw, and heard, because he had not beliey. ed in Jesus Christ; and after believing he received the Ho.